Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 19
“What a source -- ‘God’! What a standard -- ‘His riches in glory’! What a channel -- ‘Christ Jesus’! It is your sweet privilege to place all your need over against His riches…His exhaustless treasury is thrown open to you, in all the love of His heart; go and draw upon it, in the artless simplicity of faith, and you will never have occasion to look to a creature-stream, or lean on a creature-prop.”
C. H. MacKintosh
Today’s Study Text:
“After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick.”
1 Kings 17: 17
“The Test of the Home-Life: Part 1
“Many a (person) might bear (themselves) as a hero and saint in the solitudes of Cherith, or on the heights of Carmel, and yet wretchedly fail in the home-life of Zarephath. It is one thing to commune with God in the solitudes of nature, and to perform splendid acts of devotion and zeal for Him in the presence of thousands; but it is quite another to walk with Him day by day in the midst of a home, with its many calls for the constant forgetfulness of self.”
F. B. Meyer
What challenges do I face each day in my home-life
What qualities have I found to be necessary in living day to day with those individuals in my home and at my work?
“If you wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to break your will in many things.”
Thomas á Kempis
“Humility is that holy place in which God bids us make the sacrifice of ourselves.”
Unknown Desert Father
During the months of study when I was preparing for the series of devotionals on Elijah’s life and the women who he met on his journey, I found myself surprised by the thoughts of some of the Biblical commentators and authors as they sought to uncover gems of truth from the life of God’s servant, Elijah.
One of the most interesting points was made by F. B. Meyer in his biography on Elijah’s life. Specifically, he spent a great deal of time revealing what the “home-life” may well have been in Zarephath. And it is from his observations where I got the title of today’s Inspiration.
As I personally shared with you, I came to the conclusion that at the Brook Cherith, God’s lesson for Elijah was learning to totally depend on his heavenly Father -- a lesson, by the way, that you and I often learn when we come upon rough terrain in our own lives and have no place to turn but to our heavenly Father.
Having been instructed by God to leave the brook when it dried up, Elijah was directed to take a 100-mile journey to Zarephath, outside the border of the country of Israel. At first glance, we might not get a clear picture of the circumstances Elijah found himself in. But I like the way author William J. Petersen explains Elijah’s plight:
“From the outside, Elijah’s situation didn’t look bad at all -- a private room overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, a food supply that was guaranteed to last throughout the famine, and safety from the posse Ahab had sent to capture him.”
I ask you, doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Just think of a cool breeze coming off the sea in the afternoon and a gorgeous view of the azure blue water. WOW! Sounds wonderful to me.
But in actuality, here’s what Elijah had waiting for him when he arrived in Zarephath. Frankly, if we were looking for fancy accommodations, the widow’s abode wouldn’t make your list. It is likely that just as at Cherith, where Elijah lived outside with possibly a handmade covering he wove, so the same could be said regarding the “upper chamber” that served as Elijah’s room. Back at this time in history, most Middle East homes had flat roofs and if there was a lean-to or shelter on the roof, it wasn’t made of strong material. And we‘re told, this was where Elijah was sent by God to live.
Here’s what else would have confronted Elijah. He was an individual used to living alone. I’ve learned something about people who live by themselves since I have had experience with my mother who has lived alone for many years and Jim’s dad who lived alone for ten years and then moved in with Jim and me.
When individuals have lived by themselves and have their own habits; when they are used to handling their own daily activities on their own timeline -- accommodating to another person’s way of life isn’t easy. Nor, have I found, since Jim and I have had nearly all our family members live with us for periods of time, that it is always smooth sailing, trying to patiently handle the upheaval in your daily life.
Let’s just add to what I’ve described, the scenario that you are an independent mountain man, used to a secluded existence and with little time for adjustment, you’re suddenly thrust into a widow’s life and her child’s life. It is a new reality which includes making your bed each night on a roof with who knows what type of little creatures running and scratching about. And just to add to this the fact that if you didn’t get much sleep at night, don’t plan on catching a “cat-nap” in the day for you could be quite certain that the children would most likely be using the roof as a playground and the women would use it as a washroom. Good luck -- Elijah! For a man used to privacy -- he wasn’t going to find it in Zarephath.
But on the other side of the coin, the widow and her son had to settle in with having a complete stranger arrive on their doorstep, only to be informed he couldn’t give them any estimate as to the length of his stay. How’s that for having an uninvited and unwanted guest land in your lap.
This is where the quality of “humility” becomes such a critical trait of character. The word humility can be noted as the absence of arrogance or pride. Author Jane Porter calls humility “a noble mind in a low estate.” I call it the opposite of the “me-first” attitude which permeates a great deal of our society today.
After several weeks, with the new living arrangement in our home stretching my patience as I was frustrated because I couldn’t find any of my clothes which are spread out in several cupboards now, I got two prayer requests that made me, “cranky Dorothy,” very ashamed of any lack of tolerance I may have exhibited. One was from Brynn whose son passed away before Mother’s Day. She has brought her daughter-in-law and grandchildren into her home. She asked us to pray for all of them for there are new challenges with everyone under one roof. Then Linda asked for prayer. She is on a financial “shoestring” with two disabled parents she is caring for. As she shared with me, “I have no help. No money. I feel the heavy weight.” Who wouldn’t? As I read these notes I thought about so many people right now who are bent over under a burden of care. They don’t have the financial assistance available to even give them a moment where they feel they can catch their breath. And every day, when they awaken, this is their ‘home-life”. It’s where the rubber meets the road and real living takes place. The great pastor Jonathon Edwards observed that individuals he knew who exhibited a spirit of humility were individuals who were able to take notice of everything good in others and make the best of it while diminishing other’s “failings.” What truth there is to Pastor Edward’s statement. And what beauty in a “home-life” where the characteristic of humility is present, for as John Flavel wrote, “When the corn is nearly ripe it bows the head and stoops lower than when it was green. When the people of God are near ripe for heaven, they grow more humble and self-denying.”
“I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower.”
F. B. Meyer
“O Father, give us the humility which
Realizes its ignorance
Admits its mistakes,
Recognizes its need,
Help us always
To praise rather than to criticize,
To sympathizes rather than to condemn,
To encourage rather than to discourage,
To build rather than to destroy,
And to think of people at their best
rather than at their worst.
This we ask for thy name’s sake.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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